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Pavley's bill would change charter school law

Posted: May 26, 2014 12:54 p.m.
Updated: May 26, 2014 12:54 p.m.

A state legislator who represents portions of the Santa Clarita Valley has introduced a bill that would make changes to California’s charter school law by blocking such schools from locating outside the district that charters them.

Not too long ago, Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, met with Santa Clarita Valley superintendents to discuss existing charter school law.

Out of those discussions was born Senate Bill 1263, a piece of legislation that, if enacted, would remove the portions of state law that allow charter schools to locate outside the boundaries or jurisdiction of the chartering school district.

Pavley said she thinks the bill would address a loophole in charter school law.

“A lot of members (of the legislature) are very supportive of charter schools in general and, argumentatively, this particular authorization loophole really hurts other charter schools or people’s perceptions of how charter schools operate,” Pavley said.

Current state law allows for charter schools to locate and function outside the boundaries of their chartering district, if they meet certain criteria, including, “if the school district where the charter school proposes to operate is notified in advance of the charter petition approval, the county superintendent of schools is notified of the location of the charter school before it commences operations and either the charter school has attempted to locate a single site or facility to house the entire program, but such a site or facility is unavailable in the area in which the school chooses to locate or the site is needed for temporary use during a construction or expansion project,” according to an analysis of Pavley’s bill in the state Senate.

Pavley’s bill recently passed the Senate Education Committee.

Testifying at that Senate Committee hearing was Saugus Union School District Superintendent Joan Lucid.

“Senator Pavley has been absolutely an amazing person to work with,” Lucid said, adding that her impression is that state senators “really are interested in making sure the law is fixed.”
“SB 1263 is the response to the abuse that we’re seeing, and we were so happy that Senator Pavley picked it up and ran with it,” said Newhall School District Superintendent Marc Winger.

The matter is of interest to local superintendents because of the Albert Einstein Academy for Letters, Arts and Sciences, which recently received a charter through the Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District to open an elementary school.

It later came to light that Einstein was looking to open the school at 25300 Rye Canyon Road, which falls in the boundaries of the Castaic Union School District.

Castaic district Superintendent Jim Gibson said at the time that the district received no prior notice that the school would be located within his district.

Einstein later ran into issues with the site. The city of Santa Clarita issued a stop work order at the site last summer after discovering construction and demolition were taking place without required permits.

Months later, Einstein Academy officials appeared before the Santa Clarita Planning Commission to try and obtain a conditional use permit for the school.

Despite a large turnout of Einstein Academy supporters, the Planning Commission turned away that request in March, with commissioners citing traffic and safety concerns at the location.

That matter has been appealed to the Santa Clarita City Council, and a hearing is scheduled for June 10, according to city spokeswoman Gail Morgan.

Einstein officials have used facilities in Acton and Agua Dulce to offer classes this year.

Einstein Academy Executive Director Jeffrey Shapiro did not respond to a call or e-mail requesting comment.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney


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